The Taliban have enforced a ban on polio vaccines in the tribal border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Helping save the health/lives of innocent children is not be something that even the Taliban should need to be convinced – well not until drone attacks from the sky and the abuse of a “fake” vaccine program in the hunt from Osama Bin Laden.
The Taliban conveniently employ anything associated with the West and even their own governments to raise mistrust. After all, even many sophisticated families in the developed world including the US have raised various objections/concerns regarding vaccines associating it with a range of issues, from allergies to autism. Efforts at education have only had a partial success in the developed world and with independent information less accessible in the remote regions of Asia and Africa, misinformation is relatively simple. (In some areas of Africa, particularly northern Nigeria, the campaign against polio was stymied for a long time for fears that it was a conspiratorial western sterilization program or that it was a somehow un-Islamic). Also Read our Blog for Film –“More Children & Nations to be Reached by Vaccine Program”
The cause for the cessation of and problems with the Pakistani polio program is not necessarily any single issue. Read Jennifer Brookland’s more comprehensive summary at: “Polio in Pakistan Who’s to Blame?”. We do know though that the Taliban threat is real, despite the commitment of the central government in Pakistan and the overwhelming international assistance/development community. A day after the Taliban imposed the ban, a doctor was shot in the region who apparently refused to accede.
The Taliban have grasped upon suspicions that do have some momentum. The drone attacks have killed many innocent civilians in the region, including children. How to convince a family that you are truly committed to their health via vaccination when you are seemingly willing to kill infants in the hunt for “militants?” Nonetheless, it is possible to pint out that vaccines have nothing to do with drones, and that the people who deliver one are totally different/independent of the other. See our Blog for Film –“Saving Infant Lives – Immunization”
However, the hunt for Bin Laden did employ a supposed vaccine program to in reality identify DNA that might lead to the terror leader. A local Pakistani doctor was delivering vaccines while in fact it appears his primary agenda was collecting and seeking out DNA to identify Bin-Laden’s family whereabouts. This has dramatically harmed trust in those delivering medical services and their motives. Is it possible that besides Osama Bin Laden, we will again have many innocent victims as a consequence of the hunt for the terror chief? The Taliban really do not need us to provide them with an excuse – they want to control tightly control the minds of people unlucky enough to live under their domination. There is though something immoral and perhaps even in violation of international humanitarian law to conduct a security/military operation under the guise of providing health services to any person, but particularly children even if some may be Osama Bin Laden’s offspring or related. We would advise that the United Nations Human Rights Council, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the range of NGO’s/aid agencies declare a fundamental violation of human rights and law.
Also Read our Blog: “Promise 4 Children – ‘Children Call to Action’ Convenes”
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